Homeschooling offers parents the chance to have a completely hands on role in their children’s education. There are many programs that allow you to get started with no muss and no fuss, but what if none of the programs seem like the exact fit for your child? That’s where eclectic homeschooling comes into play. Let’s take a closer look what eclectic homeschooling is and its benefits and drawbacks.
What Is Eclectic Homeschooling?
Eclectic homeschooling is a method in which parents pick and choose elements from different homeschooling programs. In other words, you may look through several programs and decide that you like the reading lessons from one but prefer the math lessons from another program. This allows you to create a learning program that is a perfect fit for your child.
Although we are new to homeschooling, I knew right away that we’d be eclectic homeschoolers. While my son loves to learn via videos, he also benefits from hands-on practice with difficult concepts to reinforce them. He is also a voracious reader (though we mostly read to him still at this age), so we knew we’d also want a heavy literature focus. Math and science are favorite subjects, so we wanted to expand on those as well. Finally, I wanted him to pick and choose things that he’d like to learn more about, so we’ve incorporated unit studies as well. But more on all this below…
What Are the Benefits of Eclectic Homeschooling?
There are many benefits to this teaching style, the first of which is flexibility. Because you’re not stuck to one program, you can change the curriculum as your child’s needs change. For example, if your child seems to be flying through the reading lessons, you may opt to choose a more challenging set of lessons.
Also, you’re able to make changes based on your child’s interests and how they change. Education should never be one size fits all because it simply isn’t. With eclectic homeschooling, you’re able to create a program that meets your child’s needs.
This method of homeschooling is also a lot less expensive. You’re not stuck buying some crazy expensive pre-packaged program.
Lastly, parents have control over the direction of the child’s path.
What Are the Drawbacks of Eclectic Homeschooling?
Time is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. Eclectic homeschooling does indeed offer customization, but as the teacher you’ll need to spend a lot of time coming up with a program that will work best for your child. This can take a lot of time.
You’ll also be completely responsible for what your child is learning and that can put a lot of pressure on a parent. Lastly, you’ll need to constantly watch how your child reacts to the curriculum that you’ve chosen. This is not a set it and forget it program.
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What Are We Using?
If you’re curious about which homeschool curricula we decided to use… you’ve probably guessed by now that we’ve chosen lots of different things!
Power Homeschool (formerly Acellus Homeschool)
To make sure our kiddo’s learning is in line with state and national standards, we decided to use Power Homeschool as our “base” program. This is a video-based learning program, so if your child does great with that learning style, you may want to consider it! Currently, the price is a very affordable $25 per month.
While the number of hours this requires per day will depend on your child’s age, ability, and grade level, our second grader gets through his lessons in under an hour. That includes Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Music, and Spanish for us. You can choose up to 6 courses at a time.
The biggest selling point on this program for us was that even on the busiest of days, where we’re on the go unexpectedly, he can hit all of his core subjects on his tablet during the drive, so there’s no mom guilt about missing lessons.
Lots of parents feel that the Power Homeschool program is enough for their children, and if meeting standards is your primary concern, it probably is.
However, as I mentioned, a literature focus is important to us because of our son’s love of books. That’s where the next curriculum comes in…
Blossom & Root
Oh my goodness. I fell in love with the idea of the Blossom and Root program while homeschooling our son was still a dream. The second grade curriculum‘s language arts is filled with fantastical tall tales and adventurous stories… books every child should read at some point! The stories are reinforced with fun crafts, adventure poems, narration, illustration, word play, and more.
We also enjoy the science and nature study pieces of the curriculum. The second grade year is focused on plants, and lots of outdoor time to find the plants and study them is encouraged. She also recommends YouTube videos, optional books, hands-on experiments and crafts to go along with each science module.
We don’t really use the Art or Creative Extensions portions, but they do look lovely. Our time is just shortened because of the Power Homeschool work we do prior to this every day.
In the future, we’ll probably purchase the language arts and science portions and leave out the rest simply due to time constraints.
When we have extra time, we use the Wild Math curriculum to reinforce concepts that he’s working on in the Power Homeschool program. Wild Math focuses on using nature manipulatives and spending time in the outdoors to reinforce math concepts. It’s a lovely program!
We’re currently trying out Elephant Learning, and so far (we are about 3 weeks in), I have seen improvement in our son’s math comprehension. The price is a little steep for us, honestly, at $35 per month. Their promise is to help your child learn 1 year of math in 3 months (in 10 minutes, 3 days a week), though, so I figured it was worth a shot.
Like I said, we have seen improvement, and it only takes 10 minutes a few times a week, so at this point I feel it’s worth it. It’s something he can easily learn in the car when running to and from soccer practice or while running errands. I will update our review once we’ve completed the three months.
It’s important to us that our son learns about the history of our country, so we’re introducing him to the Revolutionary War this year gently using the Liberty Kids DVDs. You can also find these videos on YouTube, but the DVD version does come with study guides and questions to accompany each episode if that’s something that you’re interested in.
We watch one episode per week, and we occasionally read a book about the “mystery guest” in each episode. We also sometimes finish by doing a True/False quiz about the episode using dry erase paddles.
As I mentioned, we wanted our son to pick some things that he simply wanted to know more about. That’s where unit studies will come in this year. We just completed our first unit study last week on Bigfoot. Locally (in Norton, VA, about an hour and a half from us), Bigfoot is known as the Woodbooger. After studying Bigfoot/The Woodbooger all week, we finished off by going to the Woodbooger Festival. It was a lot of fun!
So, that’s what we’re working with this year for our 2nd grade homeschooler. It may seem like a LOT, but homeschooling most days takes us about 2-2.5 hours. I’m not going to lie, though… It usually requires several hours of planning on Sundays to get ready for the week.
If you’re the type that wants complete control over what your child learns, eclectic homeschooling may be the right decision. It allows for flexibility and customization, but there is also a lot of time and responsibility involved. Before you make this decision, you need to give it careful thought.